OnePlus 9 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra: Which should you buy?

Today’s premium flagship market is extremely dense. Among the producers struggling to face out from one another, two of the sport’s greatest gamers are vying for supremacy. The OnePlus 9 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra supply comparable experiences at comparable costs. While one continues to dominate within the images area, the opposite depends on uncooked efficiency and software program to get the job achieved. Are there sufficient variations to make them stand out from one another? Find out in Android Authority’s OnePlus 9 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra hands-on comparability.

If you’re after a take a look at how the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro evaluate with the broader Galaxy S21 household, you should definitely check out our series comparison.

Our verdict: OnePlus 9 Pro review | Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review

OnePlus 9 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra specs

  OnePlus 9 Pro Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Display 6.7-inch curved LTPO AMOLED
20.1:9 facet ratio
3,216 x 1,440 at 525ppi
120Hz refresh fee (adaptive)
6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Curved WQHD+
3,200 x 1,440 at 515ppi
Adaptive 120Hz refresh fee
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 or Samsung Exynos 2100
RAM Eight or 12GB 12 or 16GB
Storage 128 or 256GB
No exterior storage
128, 256, or 512GB
No exterior storage
Power 4,500mAh battery

Warp Charge 65T
65W charger in field

Warp Charge 50 Wireless
10V/6.5A, 20V/3.25A
Output: 50W (with prop. charging stand)

5,000mAh battery

Fast wired and wi-fi charging

Connectivity 5G help
Wi-Fi 6 help
2×2 MIMO
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax
NFC help
Bluetooth 5.2
5G help
Wi-Fi 6E help
NFC help
Bluetooth 5.0
Cameras Rear:
– 48MP essential (Sony IMX789)
1/1.43-inch sensor
1.12μm/46MP or 2.24μm/12MP
ƒ/1.8, EIS, OIS
– 50MP ultra-wide (Sony IMX766)
1/1.56-inch sensor
– 8MP telephoto
1.0μm, ƒ/2.4
– 2MP monochrome

– 16MP single (Sony IMX471)
1.0μm with EIS
ƒ/2.4, fastened focus

– Wide-angle: 108MP, ƒ/1.8, 0.8µm with OIS and phase-detection AF
– Telephoto: 10MP, ƒ/2.4, 1.22µm with OIS, dual-pixel AF, and 3x optical zoom
– Telephoto: 10MP, ƒ/4.9, 1.22µm with OIS, dual-pixel AF, and 10x optical zoom
– Ultra-wide: 12MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.4µm with dual-pixel AF and a 120-degree FoV
– Laser AF sensor

10x optical zoom
100x “Space Zoom”

– 40MP, ƒ/2.2, 0.7µm, with phase-detection AF

Software Android 11
Oxygen OS 11
Android 11
One UI 3.1
Dimensions and weight Global:
163.2 x 73.6 x 8.7mm
75.6 x 165.1 x 8.9mm
Colors Morning Mist, Forest Green, Stellar
128 GB in Phantom Silver and Phantom Black

256 and 512GB in Phantom Black

Other colours: Phantom Titanium, Phantom Navy, and Phantom Brown

Design and show

OnePlus 9 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra on table

Credit: Luke Pollack / Android Authority

The designs of those two telephones couldn’t be extra totally different. The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is heavier, has a matte end throughout all colorways, and a bigger digicam bump. Both the physique and show are protected by the most recent Gorilla Glass Victus, and the cellphone has an IP68 ranking for water and mud resistance. The “Contour Cut” design of the digicam feels intentional and appears very dramatic in individual. While the cellphone is gigantic, it doesn’t really feel overwhelming, and the general weight provides a premium impression within the hand.

See additionally: The best OnePlus 9 Pro casesThe best Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra cases

Comparatively, the OnePlus 9 Pro is slimmer, has a shiny end (except you seize the matte Stellar Black or Forest Green mannequin), a smaller digicam bump, and an alert slider. The physique and show are made up of Gorilla Glass 5, and whereas there may be IP68 water and mud resistance ranking, the system feels cheaper. In half, that is because of the shiny end and lighter weight of the cellphone, however I additionally favor the digicam design on the S21 Ultra. While smaller, the OnePlus 9 Pro’s digicam module feels extra of an afterthought than a staple of the system.

OnePlus 9 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 2

Credit: Luke Pollack / Android Authority

The location of the USB-C port, stereo audio system, and SIM card tray is in nearly equivalent places. However, the quantity rocker is positioned on the left aspect of the OnePlus 9 Pro, versus the precise on the Galaxy S21 Ultra. I might give the S21 Ultra a slight edge right here, because the button presses are barely extra tactile. Haptics on each of those gadgets are good, however the OnePlus 9 Pro comes away with a slim win — vibrations are extra exact and nuanced than these on the S21 Ultra.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra feels extra premium within the hand.

Both of those shows are spectacular in their very own proper, with every that includes a QHD+ decision display, 120Hz adaptive refresh fee, and a punch gap cutout for the digicam. I’ll admit that I favor the entrance digicam’s location on the OnePlus 9 Pro; that stated, the S21 Ultra has a smaller cutout. Also, the Ultra’s show is barely bigger, coming in at 6.81-inches in comparison with the 6.7-inches of the 9 Pro. Comparing the shows aspect by aspect, I couldn’t acknowledge any perceivable variations in decision or shade. The show on the S21 Ultra is barely much less curved than the 9 Pro, however to not any significant diploma.

Battery life

OnePlus 9 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 9 of 13

Credit: Luke Pollack / Android Authority

Unsurprisingly, these massive gadgets have massive batteries. The Samsung Galaxy ships with a 5,000mAh cell, whereas the OnePlus 9 Pro ships with a 4500mAh battery. On paper, this 500mAh distinction doesn’t sound like a lot, nevertheless it’s a special story in actual life. In the inventory configuration (Full HD+ at adaptive 120Hz), the OnePlus 9 Pro makes it via nearly a full day. In my testing, it often wanted a recharge at round 10PM. On the opposite hand, the S21 Ultra (once more set to FHD + and dynamic 120Hz) could make it via nearly two days, with about 15% left in direction of the tip of the second day. The S21 Ultra destroys the OnePlus 9 Pro in the case of battery life efficiency.

The S21 Ultra destroys the OnePlus 9 Pro in the case of battery life efficiency, however OnePlus’ fast charging smashes Samsung.

However, the place the OnePlus has the S21 Ultra beat is in charging speeds. The 9 Pro comes with a 65W quick charger within the field, however the Galaxy S21 Ultra doesn’t come with any kind of bundled charger. This alone might be a deciding issue. However, the benefits for OnePlus don’t cease right here. The 9 Pro costs at an unbelievable fee of 65W, which takes the cellphone from zero to 75% in slightly below 20 minutes. By comparability, the Galaxy S21 Ultra solely costs at a fee of 25W, making for considerably longer charging occasions.

Again, the 9 Pro comes away with a big win in the case of wi-fi charging efficiency. With OnePlus’s first-party 50W wi-fi charger, the 9 Pro can energy up from 0% to 70% in simply 30 minutes. Even with Samsung’s first-party wi-fi charger, the S21 Ultra can solely cost at a fee of 15W wirelessly.

It’s attention-grabbing to see two sides of very totally different charging ideologies. Samsung selected the route of longer uncooked battery life, whereas OnePlus appears content material with providing shorter battery life in alternate for quicker charging. Unfortunately, whichever system you select will include a trade-off.

Performance and UI

OnePlus 9 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra displays on red background

Credit: Luke Pollack / Android Authority

Raw energy on the Galaxy S21 Ultra and OnePlus 9 Pro is sort of equivalent, as each telephones ship with the most recent Snapdragon 888 processor. The 9 Pro has choices of 8GB and 12GB of RAM, whereas the S21 Ultra begins with a base of 12GB, going as much as a whopping 16GB for the highest mannequin. In our assessments, the Galaxy S21 Ultra scored 5,022 in Geekbench Four single-core and 13,915 in multi-core. By comparability, the OnePlus 9 Pro scored 5,036 and 14,371, respectively. We additionally ran our customized Speed Test G benchmark and the 9 Pro got here away with a slim win on the timed check clocking in at one minute 15 seconds, in comparison with the S21 Ultra’s one minute 19 seconds. What this implies to your day-to-day is that each telephones will present a easy expertise throughout the board. Yes, the 9 Pro is technically extra highly effective than the Galaxy S21 Ultra, however customers is not going to expertise this marginal distinction in pace.

Gaming isn’t any totally different, with each telephones performing impressively in their very own proper. I didn’t discover any important distinction in video games similar to PUBG Mobile or Asphalt 9. The adaptive 120Hz involves bat in each gadgets, as gaming at 60fps was easy with no noticeable hangs or stutters. I’ll say the 9 Pro remained barely cooler to the contact when gaming for extra prolonged intervals, however once more the distinction is negligible.

Read extra: Oxygen OS vs One UI — All the key differences

Another appreciable distinction is the consumer interface. Both gadgets run Android 11 however ship with totally different skins. The OnePlus 9 Pro runs Oxygen OS 11, which I discovered far cleaner than One UI Three that runs on the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. This might come as a shock to some, however the 9 Pro additionally ships with much less bloatware than the Galaxy S21 Ultra. Aesthetic variations apart, performance on each skins stays nearly the identical. Strictly from a consumer standpoint, I’d add that Oxygen OS is barely simpler to navigate, however once more, that is my private opinion. Finding settings is straightforward and each default launchers characteristic native Google integration with the Google Discover feed on the left-most homescreen. You can learn extra on the variations between Oxygen OS and One UI in our deep dive linked above.


OnePlus 9 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra on white table

Credit: Luke Pollack / Android Authority

Cameras have historically been OnePlus’ Achilles heel with Samsung taking a simple win in any Vs match-ups. However, this time round, it’s nearer than ever. OnePlus partnered with Hasselblad in an try to repair a few of its long-lasting digicam points. This new change has confirmed to be fairly profitable, however as you’ll discover out, the Samsung Galaxy 21 Ultra performs barely higher than OnePlus 9 Pro in most metrics.

Related: The best camera phones

Both of those gadgets deal with dynamic vary, white stability, element, and shade nicely. However, the OnePlus 9 Pro appears to provide barely extra detailed photographs in comparison with the Galaxy S21 Ultra. On paper, you may assume the S21 Ultra would beat out the 9 Pro as a result of its bigger 108MP wide-angle digicam. In comparability, the OnePlus 9 Pro makes use of a 48MP main digicam. However, each produce 12MP photographs by default (as a result of pixel binning), and the end result reveals very comparable element seize. Like I’ve stated earlier than, specs don’t imply all the pieces, and the 9 Pro is a superb instance of this. That stated, I feel the distinction comes all the way down to software program processing. The 9 Pro does are likely to over sharpen photographs giving the impact of a extra detailed picture, whereas the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s element is on par, however the software program processing oversoftens the picture. Regardless, that is the closest we’ve seen OnePlus get in the case of digicam efficiency.

The S21 Ultra nonetheless produces extra saturated, punchy photographs and brighter photographs. Like we talked about in our full review, due to the partnership with Hasselblad, OnePlus has improved its shade processing this technology, which errs on the aspect of realism. The photographs produced are flatter with much less distinction and saturation. Some may see this as a draw back, nevertheless it provides you some added flexibility to edit the photographs in put up. I did favor the general look of the S21 Ultra’s shade science over the 9 Pro, however it will come down to private choice. If you like punchier, brighter photographs, then the Galaxy S21 Ultra may be the digicam cellphone for you.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Camera SampleOnePlus 9 Pro Camera Sample Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Camera Sample

OnePlus 9 Pro Camera Sample

HDR efficiency on the OnePlus 9 Pro just isn’t nearly as good in comparison with the Galaxy S21 Ultra. In most instances, the S21 Ultra retains extra particulars within the shadows and highlights, making for a barely extra natural-looking HDR picture. This is particularly seen in lower-light indoor photographs, because the 9 Pro produces some oversaturated scenes. Even nonetheless, in daylight situations, the 9 Pro competes however tends to cut back the highlights and raise the shadows a little bit extra. The ensuing picture is a little bit flatter than the S21 Ultra however by no means disagreeable.

The wide-angle lenses on each of those telephones are good. The S21 Ultra does have a tendency to provide a barely sharper and better dynamic vary picture. It additionally creates a extra correct white stability, and pictures are brighter and extra saturated. The Galaxy S21 takes the win right here, however by a slim margin.

Finally, the telephoto and selfie cameras are each very shut, however once more, the Galaxy S21 Ultra produces brighter, sharper, and fewer noisy photographs. This is particularly important within the telephoto lens contemplating that the S21 Ultra is able to 10x optical zoom, in comparison with OnePlus’s 3x. Still, even at 3x the S21 Ultra produces far sharper and cleaner photographs.

In common, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra performs higher in low gentle. Dynamic vary and white stability are barely extra correct vs the OnePlus 9 Pro. That stated, once more the 9 Pro appears to retain extra element within the highlights and shadows. Both gadgets produce extremely shut photographs in low gentle, however I nonetheless most well-liked the extra saturated photographs popping out of the S21 Ultra.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Camera Sample Low LightOnePlus 9 Pro Camera Sample Low Light Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Camera Sample Low Light

OnePlus 9 Pro Camera Sample Low Light

If you wish to see the total decision digicam samples, they are often discovered right here in Google Drive folders here and here.

More digicam shootouts:


Man holding OnePlus 9 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

Credit: Luke Pollack / Android Authority

In the US, the OnePlus 9 Pro begins at a base value of $969 for the 8GB RAM/128GB of storage choice. If you wish to transfer as much as the 12GB RAM/256GB mannequin, that brings up the worth to $1,069.

  • OnePlus 9 Pro with 8GB RAM+128GB storage: $969/£829/€919/64,999 rupees
  • OnePlus 9 Pro with 12GB RAM+256GB storage: $1069/£929/€999/69,999 rupees

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra begins at $1,199 for the 12GB RAM/128GB of storage. Prices go up in $50 increments if you need the upper tier choices.

  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra with 12GB RAM+128GB storage: $1,199/£1,149/€1,249
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra with 12GB RAM+256GB storage: $1,249/£1,199/€1,299/128,999 rupees
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra with 16GB RAM+512GB storage: $1,379/£1,329/€1,429/139,999 rupees

OnePlus 9 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra: The verdict

OnePlus 9 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra on white table

Credit: Luke Pollack / Android Authority

Both gadgets are extremely good. The specs compete on paper and in actual life, which suggests selecting certainly one of these premium flagships over the opposite has by no means been so tough. Moreover, the primary cameras on each of those gadgets carry out so intently that I don’t consider it a metric to selected one over the opposite. That stated, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra gives a extra premium expertise, each in design and battery life, albeit at a a lot larger MSRP. For energy customers with cash to spare, the additional flexibility of the longer battery life could also be a deciding issue.

Related: The best OnePlus 9 alternatives — 7 phones to check out before you buy

On the opposite hand, the OnePlus 9 Pro has loopy quick charging occasions, a minimal design, and aggressive cameras — all for $200 much less for the bottom mannequin. As a end result, budget-minded customers may discover the OnePlus 9 Pro extra enticing.

Bottom line, if you desire a smoother UI and extremely quick charging occasions, go together with the OnePlus 9 Pro, but when longer battery life, general digicam versatility, and a extra premium design is your cup of tea, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is the clear option to go together with.

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